Q&A: Artist Lauren Hom multiplies her creative power with PDFs

Image with woman and the thought bubble of: How do I come up with ideas?

Over the past few months we’ve been profiling artists and entrepreneurs who use Adobe technology to expand their reach, enhance their capabilities, and help those around them.

Today, we’re featuring artist Lauren Hom who’s created a PDF kit designed to help artists discover their ideal passion projects. Through quick, easy tips and tricks, this kit helps creators hone in on innovative concepts they can develop into their next brilliant work.

We chatted with Lauren about her inspiration for the kit, as well as the classes she teaches — and the techniques she uses to keep her own creative fuel burning bright.

Your template is so fun — it feels a little bit like a MadLibs or an improv exercise! Is this typically how you get your creative juices flowing or get out of a creative rut?

It’s funny you mention improv, because I’ve actually been watching a lot of improv lately! The creative exercises in the deck are definitely in that same spirit — I designed them to make the process of idea generation feel a little less serious. Many of us tend to take our creative process way too seriously, which actually blocks off most of our best ideas. I think it’s really important to get back to that mindset of playfulness, like when we made art as kids. When we approach creative work as play, the ideas suddenly start flowing, as if by magic.

Do the exercises in this template reflect your own creative process? And if so, what does that process look like for you these days?

Everything in this PDF, and everything I teach, comes directly from my own experience. I actually come from an advertising background, and left the ad world to pursue lettering art. So my process is basically to apply my ad brain to my creative work, and look for those points of connection. Just as the best ad campaigns reflect and play off experiences we recognize from daily life, my art reflects my own everyday experiences: funny observations, conversations with friends; things like that. It might sound simplistic, but that’s really where it all starts!

We love that you start off the creative exercise with the “Playing Favorites” activity. Do you typically find yourself more inspired by your favorite things — or do you look elsewhere for that initial spark?

I’m inspired by my favorite things all the time — and sometimes by my least favorite things, too. I think it’s all about finding that concept or feeling that gets you into a flow state, where you maybe have an end goal in mind, yet are completely swept up and immersed in the process of creating. One question I often ask myself when starting a project is, “Could I talk about this for hours on end?” If something arouses a strong emotional reaction in you — positive or negative — then you’ve found a great entry point to your flow state.

Any advice for creatives who are used to drawing inspiration from the outside world, but are finding it challenging to stay inspired within their own living spaces?

For those of us who draw inspiration from traveling to new places, meeting new people, and other external-world experiences, scrolling Pinterest just doesn’t awaken the same spark, it’s true. Here’s a secret, though: the real power of those experiences is that they disrupt our everyday habits and thought patterns, so that the creative ideas inside us all have room to blossom. So I think, again, it comes back to this idea of playfulness. You can even stick a note on your monitor: “I’m allowed to make mistakes. I’m allowed to make bad work. I’m not here to achieve perfection — I’m here because making new things is fun!” The more you approach creativity in that spirit, the more you’ll discover the treasure trove of ideas waiting inside you.

Are you seeing a theme behind the new ideas and content you’re creating these days? What would you call your collection from 2020 thus far?

I actually went through a big creative block earlier this year. (Frustrated artists, take note — we all hit blocks sometimes, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of!) I got out of my rut by exploring in a whole bunch of different directions, which means my work really hasn’t had a theme this year. For me, 2020 has been all about trying new things and taking life one day at a time. Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself, “What do I want to learn about today?” When I take time to refill my creative fuel tank, I find that all kinds of seemingly unconnected pursuits come back and enrich my work in surprising ways.

There’s a lot of accountability built into your template. When you’re working from home, or on a personal project, what do you do to hold yourself accountable?

I’m definitely not a productivity expert. I have days where I sit on the couch watching Netflix — and then I have other days where I’m a total get-things-done machine. One thing that helps me a lot is to stay in dialogue with supportive people, especially fellow creatives. I think of my group texts or online course communities almost like book clubs: “Did you read chapter four this week?” That framework motivates me to keep making work so I can keep contributing to the conversation.

What’s your advice for creatives who want to use the extra time on their hands to build out their portfolio or test out new skills?

Choose those pursuits with care. It’s so much easier to work on one new thing with 100-percent focus than to try to pursue 10 new things with 10-percent focus. Are you ready to commit to putting in steady work on this pursuit for months, or for the rest of this year, or even longer? Will it expand your portfolio or skillset in ways that get you closer to your long-term goals? Do you know experts who can give you meaningful feedback in this area? It’s a lot easier to stay motivated when you pick projects and pursuits you can successfully complete and look back on with pride.

What made you want to work with Adobe Document Cloud? How do you use PDFs in your work, and throughout your own life?

The ways I use PDFs and Document Cloud have expanded quite a bit over the past few years. Where I used to just use PDFs for contracts, now I use Document Cloud to give feedback to my team of designers. I also use PDFs to provide custom-designed workbooks and other supplemental materials to the students I teach.

You mention you’re a lettering artist — so what do the letters P, D and F represent to you?

“Pretty dang fun.” That’s what I aim for every day!